I would like to have seen the look on the man’s face who asked Jesus to intervene in a family dispute over inheritance. I can imagine him coming up to Jesus with a confident air, certain that He will come to his rescue. Instead, Jesus refused to get involved. Then, surprisingly, Jesus gives a warning about the danger of greed and follows up with a short parable to underscore His point.
In just a few sentences Jesus makes a huge statement – our attitude toward material goods really matters. The man in the story is completely self-absorbed. It never crosses his mind that his abundance could be used to help others. Instead, he decides to build bigger barns so it will all be his. The contrast Jesus makes is that those who truly know God have a very different perspective. These people strive to be more and more like God who is a giver. There is nothing wrong with working hard and having nice things. But our lives are meant for much, much more. God wants us to be channels of blessing to others.
A modern example could look like this. A person gets a promotion and raise and then decides they need a bigger home and nicer car – even though what they already have is more than adequate. Instead, they could see the financial increase as an opportunity to invest in God’s work through His church, the community and around the world. Jesus underscores this with the statement “You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?” The truth is that had the man chosen to use his wealth and windfall to help others as God guided him, he would have a double blessing. He would’ve seen the immediate help given to those in need and then, when he died, would be greeted with rewards in the life after this for his faithfulness.
You and I are wealthy – probably in the top 3-5% of the world’s population. What are we doing with what we have? Hoping to build bigger barns? Or being a bigger blessing to others?